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In defence of the income tax

Published on 01 Jan 20 by "AUSTRALIAN TAX FORUM" JOURNAL ARTICLE

It is a privilege to present the 2019 Justice Graham Hill Memorial Lecture. Graham combined the best of the academic and the professional in taxation.1 Justice Hill was interested in public policy as demonstrated by his involvement in the work of the Taxation Review Committee in the 1970s which led to the landmark Asprey Report, with his contribution particularly in the context of the gift and estate duty.2 He was not afraid to stand up for an unpopular cause. One of the members of the Taxation Review Committee was Professor Ross Parsons of University of Sydney Law School. Over 30 years ago on the eve of retirement at the end of 1986 he delivered a paper entitled Income Taxation: An Institution in Decay3 which described the income tax as a supernova – a star in its death throes when it grows enormously in size and intensity and then withers away. While he did not foresee the end of the income tax he thought it would be significantly replaced by a consumption tax, the underlying theme being that the income tax was incoherent and by implication that a VAT/GST was coherent.

Author profile

Prof Richard Vann CTA
Richard is Challis Professor of Law at the University of Sydney and has taught at Harvard and NYU Law Schools and the Universities of Amsterdam, London and Oxford. Richard has worked in the past at the IMF and OECD and held many Government consultancies in Australia and elsewhere. He has been a consultant for specialist tax firm Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills since 1985. Richard specialises in corporate and international taxation on which he has published widely both in Australia and internationally. - Current at 11 July 2019
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